Given that it is easy to forget the tourist attractions on your own doorstep, this page could be equally useful to visitors and residents of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell. Here you can find suggestions for expeditions – long and short – as well as practical information on where to stay and how to get about.
If you are in Brightwell in the summer, you should not have far to look for some action. The village fete is usually held on a Saturday in early July, and this is high season for all kinds of fetes and festivals. Gardens in neighbouring villages may be open under the ‘Yellow Book’ scheme (a postcode search of http://www.ngs.org.uk
will reveal which ones). You could cycle or take a walk. The Thames Path and the Ridgeway both pass nearby, and there are many more modest ambles – including wheelchair-accessible ones – within easy reach.
Children may enjoy the Island Farm Donkey sanctuary http://www.donkeyrescue.co.uk/, or may prefer to fly a kite or watch model aeroplane acrobatics at the top of Wittenham Clumps http://www.earthtrust.org.uk/. In spring, they also have lambing weekends.
You could buy eggs and pesticide-free potatoes at Highlands Farm Shop, run by Rosemary and David Greasby (Tel. 01491 836943), and the makings of a picnic from the Village Stores, behind the Village Hall. You could take lunch at the Red Lion, http://www.redlion.biz/, followed by a walk down Mackney Lane to the recreation ground. Here there are swings and a slide, and the possibility of a football or cricket match to watch.
There is also a smaller playpark at King’s Orchard, with a secure fenced area for younger children.
For wet-weather or winter outings, look for notices on telegraph poles advertising jumble and car boot sales, visit the ancient St Agatha’s Church
, check out a museum, or visit a country house.
The National Trust http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
has eight properties in Oxfordshire. However, as Brightwell was historically in Berkshire, many of the nearest ones are just over the county border. Basildon Park is an 18th century Palladian mansion built by a family who made their money in India. It offers children’s trails, and will even lend you baby slings and infant seats to help you get around. Nearby Beale Park http://www.bealepark.co.uk/
, open seven days a week from March 1st to October 31st, has exotic wildlife in a Thameside setting.
Wallingford, founded by King Alfred in the early 10th century, was once much larger than Oxford and had an important strategic position on the River Thames. You can still see its earthwork defences and the remains of the town walls that were built to keep the Vikings out.
The town’s official website http://www.wallingfordtown.co.uk/ details three historic walks: along the town walls, through the castle grounds and by the river. There is a Tourist Information Centre in the Market Place, and if you visit on a Friday, you will also find a street market there. A traditional W.I. Country Market is also held on Fridays in the Regal Centre and there is a farmer’s market on the third Tuesday and fifth Saturday in the month.
Wallingford – and members of the town's Sinodun Players – feature frequently in the TV Midsomer Murders series. If you want to explore some of the locations featured on screen, you can follow trails on the website http://www.visitmidsomer.com/
If you are visiting the area because you want to trace your ancestors, there is an active Family History page
on this website. The village has two graveyards. The largest one is at St Agatha’s Church, with a modern cemetery in a field next to the church, and there is a smaller one at St James’s Church in Sotwell. Dr Edward Bach, who founded the Bach Remedies is buried here, as is the painter George Warner Allen.
The Village Stores – run by a dedicated team of volunteers – stocks local history booklets and cards, as well as a variety of local produce.
For more on what to do in wider South Oxfordshire, visit http://www.southernoxfordshire.com/